REVIEW: Gen-X Cops (1999)

genxcops

Hong-kong-icon

1999, Media Asia Films

Director:
Benny Chan
Producers:
John Chong
Solon So
Benny Chan
Writers:
Benny Chan
Peter Tsi
Koan Hui
Anna Lee
Cinematography:
Arthur Wong
Fletcher Poon
Editing:
Azrael Cheung
Cheung Ka-Fai

Cast:
Nicholas Tse (Jack)
Stephen Fung (Match)
Sam Lee (Alien)
Grace Ip (Y2K)
Daniel Wu (Daniel)
Eric Tsang (Inspector Chan)
Francis Ng (“Mad Dog” Lok)
Toru Nakamura (Akatora)
Terence Yin (Tooth)
Jaymee Ong (Haze)
Moses Chan (Inspector To)
Gordon Lam (Dinosaur)

Highlighting a new generation of Hong Kong actors, this action-packed film was executive produced by none other than Jackie Chan.

When Dinosaur, a top-ranking Hong Kong gang lord must hide out in the Philippines, he entrusts his younger brother Daniel to take over. Daniel, who has arrived from Canada, has other plans in mind. En route to his escape, Dinosaur is stopped by the Japanese gangster Akatora and in a bold move, Daniel shoots his brother in the head in retaliation for the constant abuse from him. Akatora promises Daniel major funding to help him transport a recently stolen cargo of rocket fuel.

The Hong Kong Police Department have learned of Dinosaur’s death and are tracking down the mysterious Akatora. With rival inspectors To and Chan assigned to the case but in different missions, To slacks off but acts like a big shot to Chan, who comes up with an idea. In searching for cops who may have the look to infiltrate Daniel, Chan meets three recruits who have just been expelled from the academy. After some careful convincing and a major dare, Chan recruits Jack, Match, and Alien, along with Y2K, the sister of the cop who busted Dinosaur before his death, and together, they become the Gen-X Cops. However, their methods to solve the case don’t bode well with To and his men. And what does Akatora really have planned in all the chaos?

In a 1990 interview seen in the documentary The Best of the Martial Arts Films, Jackie Chan had once stated that he is looking for some “new blood” and this film may be a result of that search. Serving as executive producer, he collaborated with Who Am I? director Benny Chan to craft a new film that would mesh the trademark action of Hong Kong and bring in Hollywood-style visual effects with one thing in mind: to introduce a new generation of local actors to the mainstream of the Jade Screens.

Having just made their film debuts between a year and two years prior to this film, the trio of Nicholas Tse, Stephen Fung, and Sam Lee all went from relative newcomers who gained some critical acclaim for their first major roles to mainstream action stars with this film. Tse is the “no regrets” leader of the group Jack, with Fung being the ladies’ man Match while Lee provides some of the film’s comic relief as third member Alien. Add Grace Ip, who plays the technician Y2K and the always fun to watch Eric Tsang as their team leader and you have a sure fire heroic team who rely on both their sharp wits combined with their Gen-X style of doing things.

After his debut performances in the critically acclaimed Bishonen and appearing with Tse and Lee in Young and Dangerous: The Prequel, Daniel Wu breaks through in his role of low level Hong Kong gangster Daniel, who has always wanted respect but never got it. To earn it himself, he does the unthinkable and makes the gangster his own yet at the same time, still serves as a puppet to the real villain of the film, Akatora, played with a sense of mysteriousness from Japanese actor Toru Nakamura. Francis Ng once again brings the level of craziness he is best known for in the role of Dinosaur’s most trusted ally, “Mad Dog” Lok, who seeks to find Dinosaur’s killer and has a memorable scene when confronted by Akatora himself.

Jackie Chan would unleash the action in the form of bringing his stunt team (at the time) leader Nicky Li to choreograph the film’s stunts and action scenes. He even loaned out members Ken Low and Brad Allan to play small roles with Allan even training Tse in some of the martial arts moves necessary for the action. Kudos goes especially to Tse, Fung, and Lee, who perform most of their own dangerous stunts in the film. A Hollywood-based stunt team assisted with some of the aerial stunts of the film but the piece de resistance is the visual effects team who blew up the White House in the 1996 sci-fi hit Independence Day were brought in to blow up one of Hong Kong’s most famous landmarks and its ranks as one of the best things about the film. Finally, look out for a cameo by a certain Mr. Chan as well.

A sequel, Gen-Y Cops, was made a year later and is perhaps known today for the appearances of current Hollywood stars Maggie Q and in his only Hong Kong film to date, Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, as FBI agents who are first rivals then allies to the hero cops. Tse was replaced by newcomer Edison Chen with Fung and Lee returning to their roles. Wu and Fung would eventually join forces as executive producers with Wu as the star of the hit AMC series Into the Badlands with Fung as one of the action directors.

Gen-X Cops is a fun action-packed wild ride that showcases the talents of the millennium generation of Hong Kong stars. When Jackie Chan said he was looking for new blood, he found it first with this group.

WFG RATING: B+

DVD

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